Thursday, August 5, 2021

Booknotes: Hell Comes to Southern Maryland

New Arrival:
Hell Comes to Southern Maryland: The Story of Point Lookout Prison and Hammond General Hospital by Bradley M. Gottfried & Linda I. Gottfried (Turning Point Pub, 2018).

Located on a narrow spit of land where the Potomac River meets Chesapeake Bay, Point Lookout's breezy location was thought to be a fine place for building a military hospital. The first patients arrived in August 1862, and the massive Maryland facility began to take Confederate wounded the following year (including up to 10,000 from Gettysburg alone). After the exchange system broke down, new POW facilities were needed and construction of what would become the military prison at Point Lookout was ordered in summer 1863. Unfortunately, what was believed to be a healthy location turned out to be a troublesome site subjected to seasonal weather extremes and mosquito-born illnesses from nearby swamp lands. Hell Comes to Southern Maryland: The Story of Point Lookout Prison and Hammond General Hospital "takes a fresh look at all aspects of the prison from its formation to its closing and lasting legacy. Loaded with first-person accounts of both Confederate prisoners and Union personnel, the book helps the reader get a vivid picture of what it was like to be incarcerated in the camp."

A slim volume with a main narrative running 115 pages, the book introduces readers to the history of the Point Lookout's hospital (much of that in Chapter 1) and POW camp. For the latter, topics examined include camp leadership, prison discipline, living conditions at the facilities, military actions that occurred in the vicinity, the effects of overcrowding and disease on prisoner health, and more.

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